Top Moments: Jerry West dominates Bullets in 1965 Western Division Finals
With Elgin Baylor injured, Jerry West responded by averaging 46.3 points in the series to lead the Lakers to the NBA Finals.
From NBA.com Staff
NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
For years, Jerry West was Mr. Outside to Elgin Baylor‘s Mr. Inside on the Los Angeles Lakers. When West joined the team in 1960-61, Baylor already was an All-Star forward, a player who could dominate a game with his scoring and rebounding. That made West’s job easier, for when teams collapsed on Baylor as he drove to the basket, West often got open jumpers as a result.
When Baylor blew out his knee in Game 1 of the 1965 Western Division Finals between the Lakers and the Baltimore Bullets, it was left to West to carry on alone. The 6-foot-4 guard responded to the challenge by scoring 49 points as the Lakers won 121-115, but he was far from through.
In Game 2 he tallied 52 points as the Lakers prevailed 118-115. Though the Bullets drew even when the series shifted to Baltimore for the next two games, it could hardly be blamed on West. He scored 44 and 48 points in the losing efforts.
Back home for Game 5, West kept up his torrid pace by connecting for 43 points while the Lakers outscored the Bullets 120-112. Back in Baltimore for Game 6, West scored 42 points and the Lakers beat the Bullets 117-115 to advance to the NBA Finals, where they eventually lost 4-1 to the Boston Celtics.
West’s six-game series against the Bullets was one for the record books. He scored more than 40 points in all six games; no other player in NBA history has ever scored 40 or more points in more than four straight playoff contests. West’s 46.3 points per game remains the highest scoring average for any playoff series in NBA history; Chicago’s Michael Jordan, who averaged 45.2 ppg in a five-game series against Cleveland in 1988, is next.